Presentations will typically have two key communication tools: the first is the entrepreneur (& a second team member) as communicators; the second is a PowerPoint presentation & presentation folder.
At pitch meetings, it is clearly important to get it right and make the favourable first impression. This cannot be done alone; it is impossible to pitch, present and listen at the same time.
Here are some guidelines on delivering a PowerPoint presentation:
- Do not deliver an “All About Us” presentation, which goes like this: who we are, our history, our clients, our team, our credentials, why we are different, our fees, etc. There is nothing in this type of presentation for the customer, their problems, their issues and their concerns, and the solutions you can really offer them.
- Do not use templates, particularly where you then have to cram the slide with information in the small remaining space. At least 45 per cent of the slide should be white space. Graphics should be used, to the point of replacing text. Studies show that, in a presentation, a combination of the spoken word and graphics is the best and most engaging formula for audience involvement and understanding.
- Don’t put your logo on every page.
- Relax a little at the start and create a personal connection – the audience will be trying to figure out if you are the kind of person they can work with and trust. People buy people first. Use an anecdote or story.
- Your audience is at their most attentive during the opening and closing stages of your presentation, so make sure you get your messages across at these critical stages. Use pauses and silences to punctuate your presentation and draw in your audience. After delivering a key point, accentuate it by stopping, standing still and moving only your eyes around the table. Energy levels are also important – vary your levels to keep the audience alert and engaged.
- You must Listen, Listen, Listen. Most people think they do, but in reality they are thinking ahead to the next point they are going to make in their presentation and miss key signals and queries from the customer. Very often, it is your performance in terms of listening and responding on your feet at the presentation that dictate a successful outcome.
- Do not assume the audience has read any of the documentation that you sent in advance.
- Do not give a hand-out before your presentation – it can distract attention away from your presentation, as people flick through pages.
- Prepare answers to questions in advance and know how to handle questions that you will not answer at the presentation. Some things should not be discussed or debated at an initial or large group meeting, such as fees, when the project is not known at that point.
- Set a follow-up and seek a clear statement of what will happen next – do not expect them to ask for it